Sunday, November 8, 2015

Feeding Tube Frenzy

       The next Tuesday morning, I was literally called out of the shower by Keisha, the west wing unit super visor. She told me management had been in contact with Dr. cooler, the surgeon who had put my feeding tube in two years prior, in order to find out what kind of “stopper” anchored the tube inside my stomach. There were two possibilities. One was a balloon that could be deflated and slid out easily. The other was a flexible flap that looks much like a pacifier. It has to b given a good yank. Obviously, the method of removal depended on which it was. Dr. cooler could not remember, so had wanted to examine it. What is worse, I needed to go to his office right now, and he was going on vacation, so he was going to go ahead and remove while I was there.
       I threw all those points in rapid succession to give you some idea how I, throwing clothes n while still dripping wet, received it. I object, of course. My weight was still dropping. It was not clear the tube should even be removed because of it. Dr. Lilly had not consulted with me over the issue in weeks. Dr. Cooler's involvement was a surprise that threw me off. I was not having this thing pulled. I told Keisha I was at most going to have the tube stopper identified. Keisha insisted Dr. Cooler would be on vacation the next day. The tube must be removed now.
       Hindsight on both that morning and its direct aftermath puts Sonya’s fingerprints on the rush to remove my feeding tube. I should have figured she would push for revenge after the conversation we enjoyed in my previous post. I popped her over blown ego in the same way I had when I pointed out she lied about placing a chaperone on my visits with Courtney as a compromise rather than the employee handbook rule. That ego bruising prompted the attempted improper discharge. It is not a stretch to assume Sonya would insist on my feeding tube's removal to ensure my exit to satisfy her hurt feelings over being confronted by a lowly nursing home resident? Do I have proof beyond circumstantial evidence? No, but these folks often allowed their emotion to overtake logic and reason, so it sounds likely.
       As yet another indicator of how desperate corporate/Oakhaven was to rush me into the endeavor, they did not wait for the regular driver, Jackie, as they normally would. Patients' doctor appointments are scheduled around Jackie's availability. It was her job. Her sole job. But this time, I was stuck with Robyn, who was the activities director. Of course, she brought a CNA with us. No one ever goes along with Jackie and the resident, so this was another case of staff needing a witness when dealing with me. Considering the return trip, a witness might have been a wise choice.
       My meeting with Dr. Cooler went exactly as you expect. First, his nurse asked if it was correct I was here to have my feeding tube removed. No, I was not. I only wanted the stopper identified. The real—and mutual—eye opening experience was when I got to see Dr. Cooler. I explained everything that was going on. He, of course, thought the story was the wildest thing he had ever heard. I obviously was not going to allow him to pull the tube out then and there. I needed to cover all my bases. At this point in time, I was solidly behind filing a lawsuit against Wilson Senior Care and Oakhaven. Dr. cooler wanted absolutely nothing to do with the dispute. Who could blame him? I asked if he could sign an order to have the tube removed at a later date. H did not want to do this since the tube was the type needing a solid yank to remove. Allowing an Oakhaven nurse to do so was no something he wanted to do. I told him I was informed he was going on vacation tomorrow and removing the tube was today or never. He told me, no. He would not be out of the office for another five weeks. Funny, that.
Dr. Cooler called Oakhaven while I was in his examining room. He talked to Victoria. She told him he could work out details for the tube's removal with me.        As it turned out, pulling a feeding tube was not a big deal. Dr. Cooler told me, if given a day's notice, he could pull it out the same day I moved into the assisted living facility. But he was not going to touch it as long as there was a dispute whether I wanted it removed at all. I told him that was fine. I merely wanted the rationale for the tube's forced removal clarified in writing. Then we could go forward.
       Keep in mind Robyn and the CNA were in the examining room throughout and heard everything. They have heard everything. They know I want it established the tube's removal is against my healthcare wishes o as to preserve grounds for a lawsuit. It got their attention. I was out for red meat myself. I already suspected I had been pushed into removing the tube immediately, but now I knew Keisha lied about Dr. Cooler going on vacation the next day in order to force me to do so. I was fired up. Fortunately, Robyn was a captive audience while she drove us back to Oakhaven. Recall she is the one who took the laptop out of my room a year prior with my knowledge or approval. I figure she did not know I was aware of the lie she had told Sonya during the investigation. When she made a comment about my conversation, she let herself open.
       “Out of curiosity, did you really tell Sonya I said 'Y'all take that thing and go' about the laptop?” I asked with as much of a mocking redneck voice as I could muster on the “y'all.”.
        Robyn flinched. 'We're not going to talk about that.”
      “I don't blame you,” I told her. “If I told a lie that big, I would not want to admit it, either. At least I got the laptop back.
       “So you got back, huh?' she said tersely.
    “Yes, indeed. It took corporate intervention, but I got it back. Sonya, ironically,” I said. It was the last thing either of us said to one another for nearly a month.
       I requested to see see Keisha upon my return to Oakhaven. Victoria showed up with Keisha in tow. Victoria went through the formality of asking why I wanted to see them. It was a strange practice corporate/Oakhaven employed of insisting I always bring up the subject at hand no matter have obvious it was.
       “I refused to have the tube removed right now,” I said.
        Keisha piped up. “I just needed the tube to be identified.”
       “Actually, you told me Dr. Cooler was going on vacation and it needed to be pulled now. He is not going to be out of town for at least five weeks.”
       “The receptionist told me he was going on vacation tomorrow--'
      “Whatever,” I cut her off. “the fact is I had to beat them off it to keep the tube from being pulled. I explained to him everything that is going on. He thinks it is the weirdest thing he has ever heard, by the way. Join the club. He will pull the tube out, but he refuses to touch it with some clarification on my permission. I am sure you can appreciate this...what management is calling it.”
     “I don't know what they are calling it. Usually, the roles are reversed on pulling feeding tubes," Victoria said.
       “Yes, the resident wants the tube removed and the skilled nursing facility is concerned with the damage that may cause to his health. I am familiar with that normal set of circumstances. But, anyway...I cannot have this tube removed without establishing in writing I am being forced to ignore health concerns and get rid of it because of non-medical reasons. I cannot have you coming up later and saying the tube removal was my idea. It is not.
        “All right. So you want a consent statement saying you agree to remove the tube even though you would rather not,” Victoria said.
      Her statement was a little too simplistic for my tastes. If I had learned anything from dealing with corporate/Oakhaven, it was never to allow them to handle any important matter themselves. I said I would write the statement myself and allow the legal team to approve or disapprove it. In all honey, I was surprised it was agreed I could do that. Naturally, it did not go smoothly.

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